US National Transportation Safety Board interviews captain, crew of ship that struck Baltimore bridge

National Transportation Safety Board

MARYLAND: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) interviewed the ship’s captain, his mate, the chief engineer, and one other engineer onboard the merchant vessel MV Dali, which struck Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Providing an update on the callapse of the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, Hornandy said there were 21 crew members and two pilots onboard the Singapore based Dali cargo ship when it crashed into Baltimore’s Key Bridge.

The nodal investigating federal agency informed that the two pilots on board the Dali at the time of the collision will be interviewed on Thursday and the board will try to determine what occurred onboard the Dali and also look at the structure of the bridge itself.

A preliminary timeline of what led up to the Key Bridge collapse was also shared with information from the Voyage Data Reporter (VDR). Marcel Muise, the National Transportation Safety Board investigator in charge, shared the events as they occurred.

He informed that the ship departed around 12:39 a.m. (local time) and had entered the channel by 1:07 a.m. At 1:24:59 ET, numerous aural alarms were recorded on the ship’s bridge audio.

At 1:26:02 ET, steering commands and rudder orders were recorded on the audio and the ship’s pilot made a radio call at 1:26:39 ET for tugs in the general vicinity to assist. This was detailed as the first sign of needing help.

Around this time, the MDTA duty officer was called regarding the blackout.

At 1:27:04 ET, the pilot ordered for the port anchor to be dropped and made additional steering commands.

At 1:27:25 ET, the pilot issued a radio call, reporting that the Dali had lost all power and was approaching the bridge.

The chief investigator also said that the recording were in a foreign language and are currently being analyzed.

According to the NTSB, the investigation will take 12-24 months. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said the investigation would be a “massive undertaking”. She added that the NTSB will not hesitate to issue urgent safety recommendations during that time frame, and a preliminary report is expected in only two to four weeks.

Asked about the condition of the containter ship, Jennifer Homendy said: “It is pretty devastating certainly, seeing not just what is going on with cargo containers but looking at what were three bridge spans that are pretty much gone.

“It is utter devastation, and when I look at something like that, I am thinking not about the container ships or traffic getting backed up and running on the bridge, I am thinking of the families who have lost loved ones and the families waiting to reunite with loved ones and what they must be going through.”

Hormandy also confirmed that the Dali container ship currently has power.

“They (crew) are not sitting in the dark, but it cannot move,” the chief concluded.

As the investigation proceeds, Deputy Commandant for Operations for the US Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Peter Gautier, highlighted that the crew, predominantly including Indian and Sri Lankan members, is cooperating with what they need.

Vice Admiral Peter Gautier further said that these crew members are still there and are engaged in the dialogue and the investigation.

“The crew is cooperating with what we need. They remain on board and are predominantly an Indian crew, with one Sri Lankan crew member on board. They’re still there and very much engaged in the dialogue and the investigation,” he said.

The Singapore-flagged vessel collided with one of the pillars of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland, leading to its collapse on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the bodies of two men were pulled from the Patapsco River as officials announced that they would cease recovery operations, citing safety concerns for divers and an inability to reach the additional vehicles that might be trapped within the structure of the bridge.

US President Joe Biden has also lauded the prompt action by personnel on board the cargo ship ‘Dali’, which struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the bridge to plunge into the river below sending several people and vehicles into the water.

Shipping company Synergy Maritime Group, which managed the Singapore-flagged freight ship in a statement on Tuesday that the entire 22-member crew of the vessel are Indians.

Personnel on board the ship were able to alert the Maryland Department of Transportation that they had lost control of their vessel, prompting the local authorities to close the bridge to traffic before the catastrophic impact, a move which “undoubtedly” saved lives, President Biden on Wednesday said during his comments at the White House regarding the Baltimore bridge collapse.

Moreover, among those reported missing following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, US, are Mexican nationals, CNN reported, citing Rafael Laveaga, Chief of the Consular Section of Mexico’s Embassy in Washington. (ANI)

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